The Mental Traveller

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The Mental Traveller
by William Blake
From The Ballads (or Pickering) Manuscript.
William Blake Mental Traveller bb126 1 3 ms 300.jpg


The Mental Traveller

I traveld thro' a Land of Men
A Land of Men & Women too
And heard & saw such dreadful things
As cold Earth wanderers never knew

For there the Babe is born in joy
That was begotten in dire woe
Just as we Reap in joy the fruit
Which we in bitter tears did sow

And if the Babe is born a Boy
He's given to a Woman Old
Who nails him down upon a rock,
Catches his Shrieks in Cups of gold.

She binds iron thorns around his head,
She pierces both his hands & feet,
She cuts his heart out at his side
To make it feel both cold & heat.

Her fingers number every Nerve
Just as a Miser counts his gold;
She lives upon his shrieks & cries
And She grows young as he grows old

William Blake Mental Traveller bb126 1 4 ms 300.jpg

Till he becomes a bleeding youth
And she becomes a Virgin bright;
Then he rends up his Manacles
And binds her down for his delight.

He plants himself in all her Nerves
Just as a Husbandman his mould
And She becomes his dwelling place
And Garden fruitful Seventy fold.

An aged Shadow soon he fades
Wandring round an Earthly Cot
Full filled all with gems & gold
Which he by industry had got

And these are the gems of the Human Soul,
The rubies & pearls of a lovesick eye
The countless gold of the akeing heart,
The martyrs groan & the lovers sigh.

They are his meat, they are his drink;
He feeds the Beggar & the Poor
And the way faring Traveller,
For ever open is his door.
 
His grief is their eternal joy;
They make the roofs & walls to ring
Till from the fire on the hearth
A little Female Babe does spring

William Blake Mental Traveller bb126 1 5 ms 300.jpg

And she is all of solid fire
And gems & gold that none his hand
Dares stretch to touch her Baby form
Or wrap her in his swaddling-band

But She comes to the Man she loves
If young or old or rich or poor;
They soon drive out the aged Host
A Begger at anothers door.

He wanders weeping far away
Untill some other take him in
Oft blind & age-bent sore distrest
Untill he can a Maiden win

And to allay his freezing Age
The Poor Man takes her in his arms;
The Cottage fades before his Sight,
The Garden & its lovely Charms.

The Guests are scatterd thro' the land
For the Eye altering alters all;
The Senses roll themselves in fear
And the flat Earth becomes a Ball;

The Stars, Sun, Moon all shrink away
A desart vast without a bound
And nothing left to eat or drink
And a dark desart all around.

William Blake Mental Traveller bb126 1 6 ms 300.jpg

The honey of her Infant lips,
The bread & wine of her sweet smile,
The wild game of her roving Eye
Does him to Infancy beguile

For as he eats & drinks he grows
Younger & younger every day
And on the desart wild they both
Wander in terror & dismay.

Like the wild Stag she flees away,
Her fear plants many a thicket wild
While he pursues her night & day
By various arts of Love beguild,

By various arts of Love & Hate
Till the wide desart planted oer
With Labyrinths of wayward Love
Where roams the Lion, Wolf & Boar

Till he becomes a wayward Babe
And she a weeping Woman Old.
Then many a Lover wanders here;
The Sun & Stars are nearer rolld.

The trees bring forth sweet Extacy
To all who in the desart roam
Till many a City there is Built
And many a pleasant Shepherds home

William Blake Mental Traveller bb126 1 7 ms 300.jpg

But when they find the frowning Babe
Terror strikes thro the region wide,
They cry ‘the Babe the Babe is Born’
And flee away on Every side

For who dare touch the frowning form
His arm is witherd to its root;
Lions Boars Wolves all howling flee
And every Tree does shed its fruit

And none can touch that frowning form
Except it be a Woman Old;
She nails him down upon the Rock
And all is done as I have told.